You don’t need to feel that sinking feeling, the cold panic just before you are about to stand up and face a huge crowd. We spoke to wedding speech expert William Hagerup about how to calm those nerves…

Whether you’re the best man, father of the bride or the groom, when it comes to standing up and speaking to a room full of people you can get the feeling of ‘is this good enough?’ A poll in the US found that more people were afraid of giving a public speech than dying. So if that’s true, at any given funeral, more people would prefer to be in the coffin than actually giving the eulogy! While that can sound extreme, William Hagerup knows very well how tough it can be to stand up and deliver. Having studied speech writing and delivery, he has mentored and helped many people get through their own speeches.

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The importance of practice cannot be exaggerated,” William says. “It’s one thing to write the speech, but another to deliver it well!” he explains. “Once it has been written you need to learn to deliver it.” William explains that for some people, like politicians or business people in high profile companies, making speeches is simply a part of the daily job, for most people it is obviously not.

It is difficult to be prepared for such an unusual act as standing up in front of a crowd of people – all in their best attire and full of anticipation – and trust yourself not to disappoint, or worse…” William smiles. Does he have any particular occasions in mind? “Oh I have seen some dreadful deliveries. The worse thing is, often the speech itself was good, well written, but just badly delivered. Muffled words, too low voice, no eye contact, reading from the sheet. These are the basic mistakes we make as amateurs, and with just a little mentoring you can rid yourself of these and deliver your speech like a pro!” William promises.

William has recently started mentoring and coaching people for wedding speeches. “When you find that the occasion has come, you may have no, or very little, idea of what it takes to deliver a good wedding speech,” William says. “Getting just a little bit of coaching, or more thorough the mentoring process, can enable you to learn the basic techniques that will ensure that you do not disappoint, or cause the mother of the bride to blush.” Use of humour, gentle jokes, avoiding offensive material, using an open body language, learning the main points in advance – these are some of the points William advocates. With minimal coaching someone who has never stood before an audience – or only very occasionally – can stand up with confidence and deliver a speech that will be a delight for the audience, and the pride of both the speaker and the hosts.

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William’s top tips

1 Warm up with self-deprecating comments – but avoid meta-comments
2 Learn a few jokes – these should be scattered judiciously throughout
3 Build your speech around one amusing or touching anecdote, and make one main point
4 Avoid pictures – unless absolutely necessary!
5 Make a serious point towards the end of the speech
6 Finish with a joke and, of course, a toast
7 Practice, practice, practice! Try to get someone to listen to you and give feedback

Want to find out more? Email speechmentor@yahoo.co.uk or call 07508 854064 to get more speech info!

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